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Help With Pre-Teen Son's Diet

This is my first post in this particular forum, although I post at T-Nation quite a bit. So, hello to everyone!

The subject matter of this post concerns what is the nearest and dearest thing to my heart… my 11 year old son. He will be entering middle school at the end of the summer and has gained considerable weight over the last 18 months… to be frank, he is chubby…

A little history first. My son was diagnosed ADD at age 6 and prescribed stimulants… (Concerta and others…) He was always a skinny little guy even before, but with the stimulants… even thinner…

To make a long story shorter, his mother and I (divorced) took him off of the stimulants about 18 months ago. I don’t believe he was ever ADD and he is doing well without them… bright, articulate and a genuinely nice kid. Very athletic. Very active… Started third base on his little league world series team… (they made it to the final 16 teams) and has been an allstar or travelling cup team member in his baseball and soccer every year. So he is extremely active.

About that time he started putting the weight on. He is 57" (4’9") tall and weighs 122lbs. His general build genetically will probably be large chested as both sides are big people… (no obesity). His mom isn’t fat, and I am not fat… (other than the few extra belly lbs I am battling like the rest of us mid-40’s guys).

His diet is horrendous… donuts are his food of choice. He isnt home 24-7 to monitor his eating or keep things out of the house… so that makes it even harder… but he will cooperate… he is a dilligent kid that way.

I want to start him on a diet and he is very motivated… but I don’t quite know which diet, what diet or things like calories for his age, etc… we have tried successfully to eliminate “french fries” this summer… and he was totally committed and did it so far… but has gained more fat this summer.

I hope you understand that I am concerned about his physical and mental well-being at this pt. in his life… i.e. “going into middle school”… I know how mean kids can be…

Don’t get me wrong, this kid is resilient and let’s stuff roll off, he is more of a leader… but there will much more competition in middle school, ie girls, sports etc…

Any thoughts on a good plan if I can get him and his mother on board? Seems like they both would be totally cooperative…

Thanks everyone!

Jet

Just keep the junk out of his hands and out of the house. Instead of donuts, give him an apple. Do not restrict his calories, just make sure they’re from healthy foods. His activity level and puberty will take care of the rest.

[quote]Time2Jet wrote:
This is my first post in this particular forum, although I post at T-Nation quite a bit. So, hello to everyone!

The subject matter of this post concerns what is the nearest and dearest thing to my heart… my 11 year old son. He will be entering middle school at the end of the summer and has gained considerable weight over the last 18 months… to be frank, he is chubby…

A little history first. My son was diagnosed ADD at age 6 and prescribed stimulants… (Concerta and others…) He was always a skinny little guy even before, but with the stimulants… even thinner…

To make a long story shorter, his mother and I (divorced) took him off of the stimulants about 18 months ago. I don’t believe he was ever ADD and he is doing well without them… bright, articulate and a genuinely nice kid. Very athletic. Very active… Started third base on his little league world series team… (they made it to the final 16 teams) and has been an allstar or travelling cup team member in his baseball and soccer every year. So he is extremely active.

About that time he started putting the weight on. He is 57" (4’9") tall and weighs 122lbs. His general build genetically will probably be large chested as both sides are big people… (no obesity). His mom isn’t fat, and I am not fat… (other than the few extra belly lbs I am battling like the rest of us mid-40’s guys).

His diet is horrendous… donuts are his food of choice. He isnt home 24-7 to monitor his eating or keep things out of the house… so that makes it even harder… but he will cooperate… he is a dilligent kid that way.

I want to start him on a diet and he is very motivated… but I don’t quite know which diet, what diet or things like calories for his age, etc… we have tried successfully to eliminate “french fries” this summer… and he was totally committed and did it so far… but has gained more fat this summer.

I hope you understand that I am concerned about his physical and mental well-being at this pt. in his life… i.e. “going into middle school”… I know how mean kids can be…

Don’t get me wrong, this kid is resilient and let’s stuff roll off, he is more of a leader… but there will much more competition in middle school, ie girls, sports etc…

Any thoughts on a good plan if I can get him and his mother on board? Seems like they both would be totally cooperative…

Thanks everyone!
Jet[/quote]

Although Im not a child nutritionist, one thing that might help is that I went through the same thing myself in middle school. I was in either 7th or 8th grade.

One thing that helps is to teach why the donuts are bad…and the benefits of not eating them…(i learned this since my dad had heart problems) *Plus in a couple years, once he gets interested in girls…hes not gonna want to be chubby any more.

In terms of food just let him pick the fruits, vegetables or protein that he likes. I would think a kid his age, or any of us for that matter would LOVE Metabolic Drive since it tastes like a milkshake.

So as a healthy snack have him make a pure low carb protein shake instead of ice cream or something. That way he gets to have food that tastes good without eating crap.

Also I started cooking for myself since my dads cooking wasnt great, so If you become a better cook, or if he learns how to make things …he will be less likely to go out for fast food, or opt for junk food. And a MUST**** is that he should bring his own lunch…School lunches suck nutritionally (and usually taste too) and when parents give their kids money they will opt to buy cookies or chips, instead of the lunch (even though both are bad)…

Sorry for the essay, but its hard to be chubby at that age for so i understand your concerns.

Bad foods are very tempting. At his age, it may be difficult for him to understand how worthless those empty calories are. Additionally, his taste buds would opt for sugary foods over healthy vegetables.

I would suggest that you stop using the word, “diet” as you are using it now. As a parent, it is your job to prepare your son for life. Teach him a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.

The best thing you can do for your son is to set an example of healthy nutrition and be able to prepare healthy food in a manner that tastes good. That being said:

  1. Don’t buy any junk food at all. No soda, no donuts, no fast food should be purchased by you. This will eliminate unhealthy snacking when he is at home.

  2. Make an effort to cook meals. You would be amazed at how many combinations of healthy food will actually taste good. The other day I made spinach wheat spaghetti with corn and cod.

  3. Have him in the kitchen while you cook. This is useful in two ways. First, you can build a stronger relationship with your son by simply spending time with him and he can tell you about the events that happened during his day. Second, even if he isn’t making an effort to study what you’re cooking, he’ll still be observing you and gaining valuable techniques so that he’ll be able to cook too.

  4. Educate. I know it’s hard to get through to kids, especially when they love donuts. You just have to keep making an effort to teach him about the nutritional aspects of food and that “you are what you eat.”

I think this is one instance where changing the type of foods is all you need to do. Calorie restriction can seriously harm a kid when he’s just coming in to puberty–he needs nutrients to grow. Just make sure he’s eating clean–meat, fruit, veggies, etc. Metabolic Drive shakes for dessert/sweets. The rest will take care of itself.

It is doubtful that he needs any specific diet to become healthier. Try feeding him well balanced meals and healthy snacks in place of donuts, cokes, cookies or what ever.

[quote]Doug Adams wrote:
Just keep the junk out of his hands and out of the house. Instead of donuts, give him an apple. Do not restrict his calories, just make sure they’re from healthy foods. His activity level and puberty will take care of the rest.[/quote]

This is the best advice on the thread. Sure, kids will be kids, and when at a friend’s house, he’s going to eat some crap. So what. But when he’s at home, he should only eat healthy foods.

This means you might need to change your lifestyle. What type of food is prepared for dinner? Most kids have no dinner choices other than what was prepared for them.

If you’re eating pizza, then so is your kid. If you’re eating veggies and meat for dinner, then so is your kid.

So throw away all of the junk food right now. Make it so that, when your kid is at home, he will only have access to healthful foods.

First off I think the point about puberty is important, because if it is puppy fat (brown fat) than it may be hard or impossible to shift before nature takes it’s course.

Have you thought about training with him - I know he is young but you could do some body weight resistance work together, and as someone posted, have a tasty Metabolic Drive shake with ice and a little natural peanut butter.

Also, good nutrition doesnt have to taste like crap, home made grilled burgers, whole meal bun and grilled sweet potato chips. Yum

Also, the girl thing is bound to help! Good luck

Have you, ever heard to much of anything is bad? Of course, we, all have. Allow your, child to eat four to six times a day. At his age, he should be burning calories. Especially, if he is active (wish more kids were).

Fruits, cold vegs are great snacks.

Remember though, there is nothing wrong w/every once in a great while going off of course. Note: ONCE IN AWHILE. Hamburgers and French Fries or Pizza, is ok. Everyday,

First sorry about the ADD thing. I know that thats a huge problem. When I was in kindergarten I would throw legos back into their box instead of putting them and wouldn’t sit still in class. They wanted to put me on some meds for ADD.

Madukes refused. Good thing too, if you know me now I am the most unexcitable and laid back person I know, I can’t imagine having to be on prescription meds (not to mention the problem was my mom already taught me all that stuff and I was just bored out of my mind still counting to 100). I digress. Point being a few of my classmates had the same thing happened and chunked up switching on and off those drugs so I can understand that part of it.

To get to the main point, I would say good job nipping this thing early. I was a fat kid growing up and it really screws with you. And when you finally get to the point of being fed up, usually you go on some mag your mom has on the house, take a 1200 cal diet from there where you eat saltines, and go for long runs everynight and just overall be miserable. (or was that just me at 12??)

The best way to help though is what has been said above. Get him good food at home, pack him a lunch and some healthy snacks for school, and i would say DEFINATELY start with atleast the bodyweight stuff. Damn do I wish my pops was bigger on working out and could have helped me, would have saved me 8-10 yrs of flailing around in the sea of bad info out there. Resistance training is great, get started. Don’t do anything near maximal, but 8-15 reps, super good form, are fine. (I forget the exact numbers but kids put 10Xs or 100Xs more stress on joints just running stopping and jumping than they could possibly do lifting weights).

I agree the biggest thing is keeping healthy food in the house. If you keep junk food that will probably get hit first, if there is no junk, he will reach for the healthy stuff.

This is getting to be a long post for saying some basic stuff so ill wrap it up, but I would say as long as 80-90% he gets is good solid nutrient dense foods, by time he gets to the stage of liking girls he should be fine. (Then again I had my first time a couple weeks after my 12th bday, skinny fat and all, so i guess that could be coming up soon for him…)

Either way good luck

I also just noticed your divorced, you need to get your ex on board with this or really get him convinced. I don’t know your situation, but you can do all this and more, but if your ex has custody (the typical weds and every other weekend split for you??) and she only gives him crap, it will really hamper all your trying. hopefully that isn’t a problem.

If it is, don’t waste time arguing with a bitter ex, just bring him to the site and show him the “whys” of what he is doing and get him to buy into it so he will make the best decisions he can when your not around.